UBC forest ecology professor and international bestselling author Suzanne Simard is this year’s Haig-Brown Lecture speaker. Photo courtesy Suzanne Simard

UBC forest ecology professor and international bestselling author Suzanne Simard is this year’s Haig-Brown Lecture speaker. Photo courtesy Suzanne Simard

Annual Haig-Brown Lecture to feature world-renowned forest ecologist Suzanne Simard

Ecologist author of ‘Finding the Mother Tree’ book

The annual Haig-Brown Lecture has, since its inception a dozen years ago, become one of the premier venues for important discussions about the natural world and our relationship with it.

Over this past year-and-a-half or so, many of us have reconnected with that relationship in profound ways, and on Sept. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m., we are all invited to connect on yet another level alongside one of Canada’s foremost experts in the complex, symbiotic networks in our forests, Suzanne Simard.

“The forest is a highly connected place, where the vitality of trees depends on the strength and attunement of their physical relationships with other trees and creatures,” Simard says. “This connectivity of all living things – that we are all one – is fundamental to the world view of Aboriginal cultures worldwide and it is a strong reminder that honoring and nurturing those connections, and all living things, is the basis for the health and reproduction of our living systems.”

Simard’s long path to studying the forest began when she entered the forestry industry in the late 1970s.

“I became part of an industry focused on turning the forest into commodities, and learned how it both provided livelihoods for people, including me, while at the same time cutting down the forests I loved,” she says. That internal tension and cognitive dissonance, she says, has been foundational to the research she has conducted, where she has “sought to understand where the industry was making mistakes and finding solutions through better forest practices.”

She is now Professor of Forest Ecology in the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry, the bestselling author of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, has over 200 peer-reviewed articles and papers and her TED talks have been viewed over 10 million times online.

“Suzanne will be carrying forward the tradition we’ve developed in the Haig-Brown lecture series of having some of the world’s best researchers and speakers discussing some of the world’s most important topics,” says lecture organizer Ken Blackburn. “She has very rightfully garnered a huge amount of respect and attracted a huge amount of attention for her research and work in the forests, and there’s possibly never been a more important time for people to listen to what she has to say.”

Unfortunately, Simard herself will be “beamed in,” Blackburn says, from her home in the Kootenays for the event at the Tidemark, but it will feel like she’s right there on the stage for her 40-minute presentation, followed by a 30-minute moderated discussion with Cynthia Bendickson of Greenways Land Trust ending with time for a live Q&A from the audience.

The Haig-Brown Lecture on Sept. 26 wraps up an extremely busy season of activities and events organized by our community’s non-profit arts, culture and heritage sector.

“Between the Museum at Campbell River, the Campbell River Arts Council, the Campbell River Art+Earth Festival and the Campbell River Art Gallery, I think there were about a dozen events just in September, and that’s not even including their regular ongoing programming,” Blackburn says. “The arts, culture and heritage sector of our community has really stepped up this past year-and-a-half to help us all through these tough times and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of 2021 and into the future.”

Tickets for the Haig-Brown Lecture are on sale now at www.tidemarktheatre.com for only $15 for in-person or virtual attendance (plus applicable taxes and fees). The event will be available for ticket holders to access for 48 hours after, too, so even if you don’t have time that night to make it, you can still be moved, educated and enlightened on the ways we are all connected.

Like the forests themselves.

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marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

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